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www.abplgroup.com

June 2013

Dr. Rami Ranger MBE, FRSA, Chairman of Sun Mark Ltd

Friendly,

Faithful & Fierce


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Punjab National Bank (International) Limited (PNBIL) is a UK incorporated banking subsidiary of Punjab National Bank, India (PNB). PNBIL is Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. PNBIL is a member of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Your eligible deposits with PNBIL are protected up to a total of ÂŁ85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, the UK's deposit protection scheme. Any deposits you hold above the ÂŁ85,000 limit are not covered.


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Pride and success that deserve celebrations

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ritish Punjabis and the Punjabis all over the world have unique talents and skills. Historically Punjab has faced umpteen number of aggressions and invasions from the North West of India. It was the Punjabi valour and the teachings of Guru Gobind Singhji which ensured the Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist faith traditions survive in the Indian sub continent. The Punjabi sweat and blood has contributed so much to all aspects of economic and other progress in India that is Bharat. The overseas Punjabis, from Far East to Singapore, Malaysia, East Africa, Gulf countries, UK and Europe, Canada, USA etc have achieved so much excellence in education, professions, business, commerce, philanthropy, arts- too many to enlist here. In the US there are two Governors of Punjabi origin and the first ever Congressman of Indian decent was also a Punjabi. It is in Canada, Punjabi political presence is most prominent both in the Federal and Provincial governments. Punjabi politicians, very often with the trade mark of a turban and beard, are in the Parliaments of several countries. In the Silicon valley, amongst the NRIs, there is a large Punjabi presence. Punjabis have won noble prizes as well as so many Victoria and Military crosses. There is so much we could have presented in this humble special issue. Associate Editor, Rupanjana Dutta and Chief of Operations, George were very keen to produce even a bigger and better special issue. May be in the future they will succeed and receive more resources both intellectually and financially. Any valuable suggestion in this sphere is most welcome. Let me come back to the British Punjabis. What they have achieved and contributed in the past 5 decades is beyond one's imagination. The Punjabi culture and cuisine is everywhere to be seen and admired. The Gurudwaras, schools and colleges are laying down foundations for a bigger and better role for the future generations. In industry, commerce, exports and imports and all manners of entrepreneurship, the community is contributing far more than their proportion in the general population. It happens to be a Punjabi, Dr Rami Ranger MBE, FRSA who received 5 consecutive honours from Her Majesty for exports. None other than Rami has done that. He is a proud Punjabi, Indian and Son of a great soul, who gave his life for the ideals of 'one-India', 'one Bharat'. If his words of wisdom were listened to by the fanatics, the bloodshed and enormous pain would not have fallen upon Indians and our brethren across the border. Rami is also very active in developing better relation amongst Indians and Pakistanis. I consider his role as a fitting tribute to his father, Sardar Nanak Singhji. I have been privileged to meet so many young boys and girls, women and men from the British Punjabi community. They are full of energy, enthusiasm, ambition, qualifications and confidence, as well as are reinforced with their traditional talents and values and the pride that goes with being a Punjabi. I am confident of their greater contributions to come in all walks of life, for the benefit of Great Britain as well as, if I may say so, India itself. Congratulation to all the British Punjabis who have been featured in this issue and who surely deserved to have been included. I appreciate the support from our sponsors, advertisers, well wishers and all the hard work of the ABPL team lead by George, Rupanjana and Kishor. With Best Wishes CB. Patel Publisher/Editor

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

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welcome the publication of Punjabis in Britain. It is an undisputed fact that the legacy of the British Empire attracted people from the Commonwealth to the United Kingdom. The period of the migration is a short one but it is a positive example of today's diverse nation contributing towards the social, political and economic development of Britain. In this context I welcome the contribution of the Punjabi community which is at the forefront of these developments.

It is now perfectly normal to see persons of ethnic minorities in public life. No longer is this a strange country for people born here. The second and third generations of our young people do not find any obstacles to their career development. Look at the cultural pluralism that has emerged. We are already witnessing fusion in music, the arts and fashion. This proves that cultures do not remain static. Communities change. Conflict may surface from time to time on matters of gender, generations, religion and language. There is nothing to be frightened about. Young Punjabis are a good example to demonstrate political wisdom appropriate to our multicultural, multiracial and multireligious society. I salute the Punjabi community in the way they have embraced the issue of equality as one of the fundamental belief of their faith. The contribution on this front by the women is unique and an example for others to follow. I have no doubt that they would go from strength to strength in years to come and I wish them all the success. Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon Lord Navnit Dholakia PC. OBE. DL Deputy Leader Liberal Democrats

HOUSE OF COMMONS LONDON SW1A 0AA

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would like to congratulate the British Punjabi magazine on its launch. The British Punjabi community has made a lasting positive impact on this country and I am very glad that this magazine will be there to provide information for the community and act as a testimony of the British Punjabi’s community contribution to this country. From medicine to politics, sports and business, British Punjabis have successfully enriched society in this country. I wish the very best to the team behind British Punjabi magazine and thank them for contributing to the success of the British Punjabi community.

Virendra Sharma MP Ealing Southall

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Be the change you want to see in the World

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- Mahatma Gandhi

n ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi and walking in his footsteps, Dr Rami Ranger MBE FRSA has put Gandhi's above said famous quotes into practice. Rami’s story is extremely fascinating and ennobling, and we feel our readers especially the second and third generations of Britons must know and draw inspirations from it. Rami was born two months after the assassination of his illustrious father, Shaheed Nanak Singh, www.shaheednanaksingh.com who was against the idea of India partition, simply on the basis of religion. He said “India’s unity and diversity are like the colours of a rainbow, if one were removed, its charm and beauty would be diminished". Unfortunately, the fanatics did not appreciate his vision and assassinated him while he was trying to save Her Majesty the Queen greeting Dr. Rami Ranger MBE, 600 students of DAV School, Multan, caught in between Chairman of Sun Mark Ltd, and winner of the Queens Award communal riots. Though the students were saved, Nanak for Enterprise 2009 & 2010 in International Trade at the Buckingham Palace, London Singhji became a martyr in the name of Hindu Muslim unity and religious tolerance in India. the Queen seven times; six times for business and once Rami having lost his ancestral home and the sole personally for community service. bread earner, started life in a refugee camp in India with Rami’s business achievements have been recoghis mother and 7 siblings. Rami was brought up by his nised recently by the Institute of Directors (IOD) when he remarkable mother who was a teacher and could not give was named the IOD Director of the Year – Large Company him much financial support, but instilled the right values for London and South East region. He has also been that became the bedrock of his success. And the rest is recognised and honoured by many others. He received history. the award for Business Person of the Year 2011 at the 11th Dr Rami Ranger MBE, FRSA, Chairman of Sun Mark Asian Achievers Awards in London; the “Asian Ltd and Sea, Air & Land Business of the Year” Award 2011 from Eastern Forwarding Ltd set a new Eye in 2011; the “Entrepreneur of the year British Business record by Award” by the Asian Voice newspaper in 2010 in winning an unprecedentthe House of Commons; He was the winner of ed 5th consecutive the Business & Commerce Award from Lloyds Queens Award for TSB in 2009 and the list goes on. Enterprise in International In 2005 Rami was made a Member of the Trade. He is the Chairman British Empire for his services to British business of two of Britain's fastest and the Asian Community. He is a man of vision growing companies with and works tirelessly to raise the profile of Asians a combined turnover of in Britain. He has launched many ground breakover GBP £170 million. ing initiatives to strengthen democracy and Both of his companies social cohesion in Britain. have received these most Rami has always had a passion for politics prestigious awards from and is a political reformer. Rami co-founded the Her Majesty the Queen, British Asian Conservative Link (BACL) the Queen’s Award for www.bacl.net to make Asians more publicly and Dr Ranger receiving the MBE (Member of Export Achievement British Empire) For Services To The British politically spirited and to encourage them to take 1999 and the Queens Business & The British Asian Community from part in the decision making process in Britain. He Award for Enterprise HRH Prince of Wales felt that the major political parties of the UK 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 & must be accessible to people from all walks of 2013. Sun Mark Ltd has set a new British business record life and background and that a glass ceiling needed to be being the only company in Britain to have received this broken to help Asians become more involved. Due to accolade. In all Rami has been recognised by Her Majesty work done by the BACL, the Conservative Party, which

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Dr. Rami Ranger MBE with wife, daughters and son in laws

previously had no Asian representation in Parliament, now has five MPs of Asian origin. Rami, along with the other members, organised hundreds of high profile events to bring Tory leaders face to face with the Asians and the Asians face to face with the Tory leaders so that their perception of each other could be corrected. The Asian perception was that the Conservative Party was the party for the rich and elite and many in the party were unaware of the importance of the Asian vote. As a result, the Conservative Party has become stronger and Britain richer. Dr Ranger is a social activist and works to improve relations between numerous communities living side by side in the UK to give us a cohesive and strong society in Britain. He believes in a quote by WH Auden “Society is a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born’’ To this end he has become engaged with many socio-cultural organisations. Rami is a founder member of the Hindu Forum Britain www.hfb.org.uk which was set up to unite all the different Hindu Organizations in Britain under one umbrella so they could project a cohesive voice to British government departments. He felt that it was essential for the public to know about the Hindu religion otherwise they would continue to depict Hindu deities in derogatory ways such as on carrier bags, shoes, T-Shirts etc. This would also damage the self esteem of Hindus. He organized the first ever highly prestigious Hindu Ball at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, London to celebrate Hindu culture and its contribution in enriching British society. The Ball helped the local population understand more about this peace loving community and helped stop people from using images of Hindu deities frivolously.

He is also the Chairman of the British Sikh Association (BSA) www.britishsikhassociation.org which promotes interfaith dialogue. This organisation was set up to spread the vision of a unified mankind working together for the good of all people regardless of religion and race. Rami works with many other groups including, but not limited to a few. He is President of the Punjabi Society of the British Isles www.psbi.org.uk promoting Punjabi culture in Britain and helping to raise money for worthy causes. Rami set up the Pakistan, India & UK Friendship Forum www.pakindiafriendship.com soon after the 7/7 and 21/7 bombings of the London Underground by British citizens of Pakistani origin. He realised that we had

British Institute of Technology & E-Commerce (BITE) Business Award "Business Award 2011" being presented to Dr Ranger MBE FRSA by Professor Leslie Hobson OBE, BITE Principal Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

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Dr. Rami Ranger receiving the Community Service Award from Rt. Hon. Ed Balls MP, Secretary of State for Children, Families & Schools and Lord (then Sir) Gulam Noon MBE at Asian Achevers Awards 2008

to make a conscious effort to build bridges with the Muslim community which was feeling isolated and dejected as a result of the actions of a small minority. He realised that Britain could not move forward by leaving any section of her population behind. Rami recruited prominent Pakistanis in Britain and launched the Pakistan, India & UK Friendship Forum. The Forum proved to be an instant success and thousands of Pakistanis and Indians are now celebrating what unites them in Britain. He organized for the first time ever, anywhere in the world, a joint celebration of the Independence days of India and Pakistan in London and in the process made history. This proved a watershed in the relationship between the people of India and Pakistan and now they are openly talking about peace between the two countries which they had not experienced since their Independence in 1947. His message is, we now have one country and Queen and as a result, have become one. Dr Ranger believes that the acrimony of past history must be buried and we must work towards peace. In memory of his illustrious father Rami set up the Shaheed Nanak Singh Foundation. The foundation works for peace between religions and communities which is so pertinent

Stuart Winton (Head of Entrepreneur Lloyds TSB), Dr. Rami Ranger MBE and Kamel Hothi (Lloyds TSB), the winner of the Business & Commerce Award 2009

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Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

in this day and age and a cause close to Rami’s heart. An annual memorial lecture is held in India and in 2013 was delivered by the Minister for External Affairs, Mr Salman Kurshid. Rami is conscious of how hard he had to work in his youth and says that he can see how the young people of today may find the future daunting and perhaps even bleak but he wants to share his story and experiences so they can see that anything is possible. As a Fellow of the Princes Trust http://www.princes-trust.org.uk , Rami spends his time mentoring underprivileged youth so that they too can realise their ambitions and become upstanding citizens who can contribute positively to their families and country. He tells them that they do not need a rich family or elite education to be successful in life. Rami did not have a father, let alone a rich one, did not have the benefit of an elite education or the old schoolboy network to help him in life. All one needs to succeed is, selfrespect, work ethics, commitment and empathy for others.

Her Majesty’s special representative, Mr. Robert Leader DL presenting the Queen Award for Enterprise 2009 & 2010 to Dr. Ranger

Rami also works to support many worthy causes. As a patron of the “Great Walk” undertaken by the Chairman of the India Association UK www.indiaassociation.org.uk helped raise £100,000 for research into the cure for AIDS and cancer for the Northwick Park and St. Marks Hospitals in Harrow and is also the Chairman of the Golden Heart Club at these hospitals which helps raise funds for research into stroke and heart disease. He helped raise £25,000 for the charity Help the Heroes and he is a member of the Memorial Gates Commemoration Committee which keeps alive the memory of the soldiers of the Commonwealth. He has always said that life must be about much more than just making money; it is about charity, social work, consideration for others and an individual may have great intentions but it is one’s actions that determine what we do. Again, in the words of the great Mahatma Gandhi “A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.” In all, Rami has done his best to put back in society from where we take so much out.


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Sharon Kaur Presenting is Personality ■ Sunetra Senior

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ith a fiercely open mind and an infectious bubbly spirit, army cadet-turned-presenter Sharon Kaur, has exactly the right equipment for media in the UK. She has been a face on Sikh TV, and her positive attitude and diverse background make her the perfect candidate in the current time of post-modern multiculturalism. “Just do it. When it's something you should be doing, then you'll be good. I strive for creative independence and holding my own”. Following this life philosophy, Sharon pursued her career alongside a communications and media degree at Birmingham University “while studying I went to the Sikh channel as a production assistant and I started doing little bits and bobs. I did an Indian version of X-factor with Indian contestants competing for a prize to be a super-star. When I did my first interview, I was trying to contain my nerves, but after time, you can use those nerves to your advantage.” Having a very liberal mother meant that Sharon's outgoing nature was encouraged from a young age while her older sister Lena, a successful actress herself, opened the door to the arts and to the stage, “ My Mum did not raise us in the traditional Indian sense, we had the freedom to find something we loved, for Lena that was acting and my me it was presenting. My sister was part of the first Indian family on HollyOaks, so for me, she is my sole inspiration in relation to my career but also personally. She showed me that the sky is the limit if you just dare to be brilliant. My sister is my best friend” A bi-cultural upbringing played a large part in Sharon's enthusiasm for meeting new people. Although of Indian-Punjabi descent, she was born and brought up in Huddersfield and identifies equally as much with British culture, going to the Gurdwara with her family as well as interacting with a colourful array of English locals as a child “you have your own family, own identity and background you're born into but then you also create yourself”. She still strikes that balance today.

Even as she aspires to work within more mainstream television like the BBC, she continues to visit the Gurdwara to meditate in its “quiet clean energy. I'm open to everything, culture is beautiful”. As we spoke over the video- phone, she jauntily added that her multicultural embrace extends to travel “I go to Caribbean carnivals, a British pub, the lost ruins in Greece and I feel like that's as much a part of my culture as it is anyone’s.” The thirst for international exploration and her powerful warmth have organically become a part of working-life; signed with the agency Red-24 Management, her videos reach out to the English community in fun advice pieces such as 'Simple Pleasures' and take her abroad to discover many more alternative ways of life, the latest being a bucket list of things to do in Honduras. The fact that she was raised in a pub that was owned by her mother, and comes from a working-class background which included “small town England workers and old-school pensioners spending their last penny on a pint” adds to the repertoire of social sensitivities that create Sharon's unique identity and cosmopolitan passport “I'm a strong believer in equality and democracy. As an Indian female I see myself as completely equal to everyone and anyone. She shares a moving story about the reality of the immigrant experience of her grand-parents “It was all industrial, everyone had to go to work when they were fourteen, my grand-ma cooked big meals for everybody, they shared beds and had no heating. So I have that old school mentality 'live life to your means and be grateful for what you do have.” As we said goodbye there is a strange feeling of missing Sharon already. She clearly has a personality that's big enough to traverse the Atlantic. Her stylish eye-popping outfits are outward proof- of course she couldn't resist showing us her cute new trekking wellies before hanging up! Look out for this girl on the horizon. She is a rising star.

Sharon Kaur

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One year on, the IT Director with a successful cake business franchise has rapid expansion plans

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4 year old Ranjit Singh Wasu has a very sensible approach to starting a business, one that the 98%of businesses that fail in their first year would do well to take note of. For Ranjit has taken a logical route that is the hallmark of most successful entrepreneurs; learn about business first with a safety net to catch you if you fall. Then, having learnt the essential techniques and made your mistakes, you are ready to launch off on your own. Ranjit has now reached the stage where he can grow and help others at the same time. Ranjit and his 29-year old wife Sophia Kaur Wasu decided that the best way to fulfil their ambitions was to enter business through becoming franchisees. Ranjit was an IT Director and many from his peer group considered it a huge risk; but Ranjit knew exactly what he was doing. Unlike those who come from family firms, where a lot of money can be thrown at something that doesn’t work, Ranjit advises that it is much better to strengthen yourself with a leading brand. Ranjit's parents are strict vegetarians and Ranjit discovered a big hole in the market in West London for people like them. There were no cake shops in Southall catering for those who don't eat eggs, and Ranjit jumped at servicing this niche market. His entrepreneurial spirit paid off and his Eggfree Cake Box shop is a roaring success; always busy, seven days a week. Ranjit’s idea to piggy back on an existing franchise concept meant that his investment was less exposed to risk; he had the support and security of a going business, had his hand held to some extent and learnt how to become cost effective. It worked. Ranjit rapidly gained valuable contracts with leading brand hotels along Bath Road by Heathrow airport which are very popular destinations for events and weddings. He has regular weekly orders there. He has introduced a loyalty card for customers and is now considering opening a second branch. After a year of trading, Ranjit and

Sophia feel that they have mastered the sometimes tough first year of setting up a firm and now feel a lot more confident about going into other arenas and expanding. But this is not just Ranjit’s story; it is also an epic about his wife and the community. Like good Punjabi Sikhs, Ranjit and Sophia are brought up with the idea of being model citizens and teaching by example. Sophia has always been Ranjit’s backbone, he says quite seriously, as she has decorating experience and specialises in the wedding cakes that they sell that can be highly elaborate. Sophia has not stuck meekly in the shop or the home but has been attending seminars with an entrepreneurial focus for women. She belongs to a group called Women Empowered. Sophia is sending out a terrific message to women and men; that women can be involved in franchises and be highly successful. Sophia is showing by example how ladies can take the lead and not expose themselves to undue financial risk at the same time. She is demonstrating wonderfully how women can become entrepreneurs! The good news does not end there. The rapid success of the Eggfree Cake Box has meant that the Wasus can branch out into cake diplomacy. The generous couple has donated to society events, schools in Southall, Mother’s Days and Father’s Days. Using cakes they are bringing people together! Furthermore, Ranjit and Sophia are now role models and Ranjit has learnt so much through his own hard work and business attempts since he left the comfort of working for a company that he would like to mentor others. He would like to encourage young people eager to get into business to consider the pros and cons of becoming franchisees, and learn about business in a tough but relatively safe environment. Ranjit remains humble but excited. From his starter enterprise on King Street, he is growing on a daily basis. He exudes passion, and says “If you share positivity you’ll get some back.” Who knows what we will be reporting on next year in the British Punjabis magazine regarding Ranjit Singh Wasu?

Sophia Kaur Wasu & Ranjit Singh Wasu

Shop Address 53 King Street, Southall UB2 4DQ Tel: 020 8571 4143 southall@eggfreecake.co.uk www.eggfreecake.co.uk Opening Times: Mon-Sat: 11.am to 7.pm Sun: 12.pm to 6.pm Open on bank holidays and religious festivals.

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India's unity and diversity are like the colours of a rainbow. If one were removed, its charm and beauty would be diminished - Shaheed Nanak Singh

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haheed Sardar Nanak Singh was born on 11th September 1903 in Kuntrila, Rawalpindi District, Punjab.Born to Dr. Wazir Singh and his wife, Jeevan Kaur. Shaheed Nanak Singh, BSc (Hons) L.L.B, a prominent Sikh leader of West Punjab, Vice President Bar Association, General Secretary Akali Jatha, Multan, President Post & Telegraph Union, Multan, Vice President Communal Harmony, Joint Front Multan. He fell, a martyr, in communal riots in Multan on March 5, 1947 at the young age of 43 while trying to save 600 students of D.A.V College, Multan, who were caught in the riots. He was only 43 years old and left a young widow and 8 young children, the oldest being only 14 years old. Sardar Shaheed Nanak Singh was a well-known figure of a part of Punjab, now in Pakistan. He was a great freedom fighter and dedicated his entire life for the freedom, communal harmony and unity of India. He was strongly opposed to the partition of India and foresaw the consequences of breaking up India. He delivered his last public speech on 4th March 1947 at Kup Mandi, Multan City along with Dr Saifudin Kichlew, ]President, Punjab Congress. Unfortunately he was tragically killed the very next day by religious fanatics when he was trying to save 600 students of DVA School, Multan who had taken out a procession against the division of India. Unfortunately, they were caught in the communal riots at Bohr Gate, Multan. Nanak Singh went to save them. The students were saved though he lost his life for Hindu Muslim unity in India. Shaheed Nanak Singh pleaded with the then Muslim leaders not to cut and run and fall for the British policy of divide and rule and eventually divide and run. After independence, there would be one person one vote and as a result, together we would make our destiny. He warned them that they were not serving the Muslim cause by dividing India as they were also dividing the Muslims of India and rendering them weaker forever. Regrettably, he was assassinated as people could not appreciate his vision of unity, harmony for peaceful coexistence for the sake of every Indian. Shaheed Nanak

Singh dedicated and sacrificed his life for the peace, integrity and unity of India. He advocated that we must always consider ourselves to be Indian first and then could follow any religion for our peace of mind. The unity of India must come first and every time as dividing India would never prove to be a panacea. Shaheed Nanak Singh was a dynamic police Inspector with the British Police and received 29 Gold Commendations Certificates for his excellent discharge of duty. He threw away his illustrious police career when he was ordered to open fire on an unarmed procession of freedom lovers in Sargohda, now in Pakistan. He challenged his superior's immoral orders because people were taking part in a peaceful rally and there was no threat of rioting. He refused to be part of another incident similar to that of Jalianwala Bagh. As punishment he was posted to Dhera Gazi Khan, a tribal area. Having been disillusioned by the attitude of the British Authorities he resigned from the police force and started a legal practice in Multan. He was a successful and well respected advocate in the area. He took up cases to defend prisoners of the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) started by Shubash Chander Bose and General Mohan Singh. No other solicitor would dare take on such cases for fear of reprisals by the British Authorities. The Shaheed Nanak Singh Foundation was founded by the youngest child of the Shaheed, Dr Rami Ranger MBE, FRSA, with the objective of spreading his message of peace and religious harmony. To propagate this message the Shaheed Nanak Singh Memorial Lecture is held annually in India. This year the keynote speech was delivered by the Hon. Shri Salman Khurshid Ji, Minister for External Affairs Govt. of India. He was also presented with the Soul of India Award which honours those who honour India. Another notable recipient of this prize is General JJ Singh, ex-Chief of the Army and now Minister of State for Arunachal Pradesh. For more information on the work of the foundation and to become involved please go to www.shaheednanaksingh.com

Shaheed Sardar Nanak Singh

Dr Rami Ranger with the President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee

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Paul Jheeta: Turning heads with bespoke tailoring ■ Rupanjana Dutta & Arjun Gadhvi

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Paul Jheeta

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orn in India, in a family of engineers you would think Paul Jheeta's career path would be a foregone conclusion. Far from it, his attention for detail has lead him to a career at Savile Row in Mayfield in the heart of Central London, known globally for its bespoke tailoring. Paul who has his own label at Savile Row, appreciates that from a young age his heart was always in the 'arts and crafts.' Though Paul reminisces about his childhood where he would love knitting and working on broidery work, he reluctantly acknowledges how this was not seen as 'normal.' However 30 years on with a level of acceptance and modesty in his tone, Paul has made a new normal, where you can't imagine him being anywhere else but alongside the best bespoke tailors in the world. Nonetheless prior to landing his dream job, Paul trained as a pilot in India. In an upbringing where his father was an officer in the Indian navy and a brother who is an engineer, Paul accedes that his 'family environment' played a role in his early life. When asked about the family reaction to his decision to pursue his eventual passion for tailoring, it was the same family, particularly his mother that remained a pillar of support and true ‘inspiration' in his adventure. Whilst Paul's life is far from the perceived stereotypical idea associated with the so called structured Asian career, his marriage could easily fit the plot for a classic Bollywood story. When we quizzed Paul on his wife's initial reaction to his job as a tailor, Paul could not help but burst into laughter in conceding that 'she did not take me seriously'. However he went on to clarify himself by appreciating how 'she understands me very well and supports me a lot,' despite having contrasting professions. When we redirected the conversation towards how he ended up at Savile Row, Paul left no bones about how Savile Row was not simply a miraculous piece of luck. To the contrary, Savile Row was always 'part of the plan,' once he knew he wanted to change his career (in flying) and recognised where his strengths lied. Discussing the journey from being an

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

apprentice to a bespoke tailoring, Paul was candid in stating the 'journey has not been easy.' He highlighted his 'love and passion' for his art as a crucial part to any success he has enjoyed. When advising young individuals hoping to similarly succeed in their chosen field, Paul encouraged them to be patient and find the artist within themselves to 'drive you on.' Paul’s journey to the top of an industry which has traditionally been perceived as a Western niche has come alongside its apprehensions and criticisms. ‘I ignored these negatives...and rather than let them bring me down, I just perfected my art’ says Paul. Today he has ‘proven to be one best craftsmen’ in bespoke tailoring, as he reluctantly acknowledges. ‘I can cut, fit, make and finish’ and subsequently Paul has the rarity of being a pure and unique and perhaps the only Indian bespoke tailor designer in Savile Row. Like a true artist Paul does ‘not go by numbers but the end product.’ Despite being at the heart of British bespoke tailoring, Paul has managed to disassociate the idea of an Asian tailor sticking to convention or making sherwanis for men. However Paul is the first to recognise how ‘the younger (Asian) generation does not think like that…they know exactly what they are getting. And bespoke tailoring is getting gradually popular amongst them too.' As a true artist Paul believes one's own ‘work should speak for itself' and whilst he has already tailored for icons such as legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar or Bollywood actor/singer/writer/director Farhan Akhtar, he does not believe in extensive PR. With global clients, including in India or socialites like Sidharth Mallya from the US, Paul believes Asians are breaking barriers in every sphere of life. And this exclusive interview with a Master cutter in the historical Savile Row, who happens to be a Punjabi with Indian links, is a proof of the changing waves in western tailoring especially the Mayfair bespoke suit designers.


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Paul Uppal A Rapidly Rising Star ■ Rani Singh

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rom a young age, Paul Uppal wanted to become a Conservative MP because from his family experience, he realised that politics mattered. Politics mattered to his family, as it lost a substantial electrical business in Kenya and was grateful to the UK for the refuge, security and opportunities that were provided by this great country. Born in Smethwick in a terraced house that was shared by not only his family but his uncle's family as well; he spent his childhood in the working class area of Birmingham and attended both a state primary school and comprehensive state secondary school. Paul has a Christian first name and a Sikh surname; this symbolises his ethos in life. Through his work as a Member of Parliament, he tries to combine the best of his traditional Indian values with his core British values. Paul says that everyone faces challenges, as a country, as a community and as individuals, but that people must remember what makes Britain Great. It is the values and beliefs that he believes everyone holds. He is passionate about education and social mobility. As a parent, Paul wants the best education possible for all children because he recognises its importance; it drives social mobility, allows future generations to realise their dreams and fulfil their potential. It is for these reasons that Paul is a Conservative and is proud to be part of a government that he feels is delivering on education reform and creating a culture of excellence within our schools. This is why Paul welcomes the introduction of Sikh Free Schools across the country, and in particular, Anand Primary School, in his constituency of Wolverhampton South West, which he has personally championed. The school will very much have a Sikh ethos, encapsulating Sikh values whilst bringing the highest standards of teaching and a wide range of extra-curricular activities to enable all children to fulfil their potential. At a recent Prime Ministers Questions, Paul highlighted what he feels are the Government’s achievements, regarding the

end of manual searches of the Sikh turban at European airports, commending the Department for Transport’s lead in securing a resolution and tackling the issue with the seriousness it deserved. He also thanked David Cameron for becoming the first serving British Prime Minister to visit Amritsar in February – a visit Paul was lucky enough to accompany him on. Under the guidance of one of his teachers, Paul was encouraged to fulfil his academic ambitions and went on to study politics at Warwick University. Before entering Parliament, Paul ran his own business, and in his time has been his own builder, secretary, accountant, lawyer and cleaner. He says, "Don't ask anybody to do something for you, if you're not prepared to do it yourself." Paul wanted to be an MP because he believes in Britain and wants to be part of the solution in working to preserve Britain's great institutions. Paul believes that reforms and progress do not stop when a child leaves school. He is a Parliamentary Private Secretary to a minister in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and is proud to be part of a team that is delivering on schemes that give young people the skills they need for work. Figures released by the Department for Education in November 2012 showed more than a million young people in England were not in education, employment or training; he feels that this must not be allowed to continue. In Wolverhampton, where Paul’s constituency is based, a quarter of people have no formal qualifications. This is why, he says, this government is delivering on the traineeships and ensuring that people of all ages have the skills they need for work.

Paul Uppal, MP

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

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Param Singh: From City to Business to Take me Out ■ Rupanjana Dutta & Romil Patel

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Param Singh

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fter moving from Chatham, British-born Param experienced a traditional upbringing in Derbyshire where he was surrounded by members of the Sikh community. He labels his family’s move to the Midlands as a kind of “self-discovery” that allowed him to explore and learn about the Sikh culture. “Of course about 70 per cent of my school was Punjabis!” he jokes. “It wasn’t so difficult to be raised as an orthodox Sikh because we had such a large community in the area.” However like many other second-generation British-Indians upon their arrival at University, Param had to explore his cultural identity. “It’s the first time that you are away from the family and you get to be more independent,” he says. “I didn’t really know what I was or who I was until I got to Sheffield and met people from all over the world.” He pays tribute to the multi-cultural city saying that it allowed him to express who he really was. “Being different helped me make friends, it was a fantastic feeling.” About an year ago – over some curry and mango lassi, Param confesses – he and two friends came up with an idea for a website which compares quotes from a range of legal professionals as well as providing feedback from customers, and by January Mrlawyer.co.uk had launched. Describing his motivation for pursuing his ambition, he says: “I don’t work for anyone in the city anymore. We can keep working for someone else for our whole lives, but maybe it’s time we give up our jobs and work on some of our ideas. “When you work for yourself, you can choose your own hours, it’s really fun.” Alongside his internet venture, Param is a Communications Director for City Sikhs Network, a not-for-profit organisation inspired by its Hindu counterpart, “created to promote networking, education and volunteering amongst Sikh and south Asian professionals.” The group comprises more than 1,000 professionals mainly in London. “It’s very exciting. It adds colour to my life and more importantly it gives me an opportunity to give something back to society.

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

“Hopefully it will inspire others to volunteer, to be active in inter faith, to help build bridges between different communities, to inspire people to become talkers and develop public speaking skills.” Despite CSN’s success, Param is determined for it to expand across the UK in areas where there is a significant Sikh population and to collaborate with other groups such as the City Hindus Network, Square Mile Muslims and City Circle to produce joint events. “We are just scratching the surface – apparently there are 10,000 Sikhs that work in the city of London alone, but we’re not just restricting ourselves to London. “It shouldn’t be that just the people in London get all the benefits and those in other areas don’t have anything to inspire them. “We can have lots of networks in Birmingham, Scotland and Wales. We don’t have them yet but hopefully we’ll grow those over time so that we can have localised events in different places.” This certainly seems to be a realistic target according to Param, who tells me that an Australian member was so inspired by CSN that he is now in the process of forming City Sikhs Australia. “We are open to the idea of having similar organisations across the world. Another exdirector is looking at doing the same thing in Canada,” he says with pride. “This is just the beginning.” We finally get to the inevitable part of the interview – Param’s decision to participate in ITV’s Take me Out. “I was thinking strategically,” he says chuckling at the watertight logic. “There’s no other way that I’ll get attention from seven million other people. If I go on Take Me Out, there will surely be some aunties watching the show who might think: ‘He looks like a nice boy!’” In spite of his slick dance moves to OutKast’s Hey Ya, Param admits he was anxious before coming down the elevator, being the only Sikh to have appeared on the show. “That was one of the scariest things I have ever done, and as somebody who is quite extrovert, that was way beyond my comfort zone,” he confesses. As single Param’s professional and charitable profiles continue to grow through his business ventures and CSN, so too does his marriage portfolio.


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Sky News’s Important Bright Punjabi Producer- Jay Singh-Sohal ■ Rani Singh

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ay Singh-Sohal took a BA in Politics and Social Policy at Brunel University during which he studied American politics abroad at Brockport, in New York. He went onto post graduate studies in Broadcast Journalism at City University before entering the world of professional media in 2006. He found his aptitude for journalism early on. “When I was 16 I wanted to do something creative, so applied for and received funding from the Princes Trust to create an inner city youth magazine. As a young opinionated person in Birmingham, it gave me a way to release my ideas and express my thoughts. The crux of my passion for journalism was and always is writing and expressing ideas.” I believe in finding the truth in a story or an event. And in finding ways to make it connect with an audience.” Jay has gone from print to radio, to TV and film, but has always written. More recently he has undertaken historical research and published several books, which he says he will continue to do. He freelanced at the BBC after his studies, but was soon picked for the prestigious ITV News Group training scheme. Here he was introduced to television - presenting, reporting and producing. The lives of ordinary people are what interest Jay. “How people overcome difficulties and hardships.” Journalism empowered me to want to tell peoples’ stories, and I set out to give people a voice - especially those who would not otherwise find an outlet for what they go through or experience.” He says that being a grammar-school educated Sikh who speaks Punjabi means that he is always able to connect with people and groups that would not otherwise be covered in news. “Whether it is speaking a foreign language and getting access to information or encouraging those who might not want to speak to the media to share their stories - it has made a difference in places I’ve worked.” It has also meant being able to explore areas like consulting for local government on minority issues or taking the stories from such communities and finding ways of making them mainstream.

For the past three years, Jay has been a producer at Sky News where he makes reporter packages and output from the gallery. “It means I take editorial decisions about our coverage of news items and work on putting together news for broadcast. Being in the gallery means taking responsibility for breaking and rolling news coverage – it’s a team effort all round, but being able to shape coverage and analysis of events as they happen is a tremendous privilege.” But he has also maintained a desire to work independently, especially on stories from his own community. “In 2009, I set up the "Turbanology" project which evolved from an independent documentary to an Arts Council exhibition, book and finally workshops. The aim was to express how Sikhs have been affected post 9/11 and now the project explains why Sikhs maintain their uncut hair and turbans and how it can empower them (it certainly has empowered me!). Young people need a reason to be proud of their faith and identity and non-Sikhs need the tools to understand and appreciate it's importance. As a filmmaker Jay also created the "Sikhs At War" project which explores the historic impact Indians have made during the Great War. He pursued this because not enough work or research has been done to make it resonate for young people today. He is going to expand this project in future on the www.sikhsatwar.info website especially during the anniversary of the conflict next year. Jay gets interest from community members and asked why “ I don't cover more of the controversial, stories But it's a two-way process - community members who want more from mainstream media need to engage in the mainstream too. It can be difficult especially as there is a lack of articulate voices out there that are credible and want to be visible in this way. Finding female experts is even more difficult. Jay is interested in a political career and being in public life, he told us. He intends to achieve his goal one day – but for now is dedicated to producing good television.

Jay Singh-Sohal

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

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International Punjabi Society h Mr Ravi Gidar for receiving the

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r Ravi Gidar, Managing Director of went on to reiterate the need to remember Gold Care Homes was recently our Elders who came to the UK in the honoured by the International 1960’s looking for a better life. They paved Punjabi Society. The President of the IPS, Mr the way for his generation and younger peoGujral and the Executive Committee held a ple to make something of themselves as Dinner at the Langham Hotel in London to British Citizens and along with all older peocelebrate their Vice President’s – Mr Gidar’s success on being awarded the “Asian of the Year” award by Asian Who’s Who. Ravi Gidar is the Founder and Managing Director of Gold Care Homes, a company established in 1993, which his Brother later joined in 1996. GCH has now grown to become one of the leading providers of Elderly Mr Ravi Gidar Care in the Care Industry. Over the years, GCH has had many nominations for the Care Awards and won. It currently successfully operates 23 Care Homes across Birmingham, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, London, Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire and Ravi Gidar and the Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP Worcester, caring for up to 1,150 ple, deserve our respect and care. Elderly Residents in total. Mr Gidar conThe prestigious event was held in the firmed that his motivation stemmed from company of Mr Jjasbir Singh Sacher, the the need to care for the older generation Founder of Asian Who’s Who and approxiand that this is reflected in Gold Care mately 175 other highly respected guests Homes’ ethos of providing Care, Nurture, which included, Mr Ranjit Singh Baxi, Respect and Dignity within an environment President of the World Punjabi Society and that is both Safe and Stimulating. Mr Gidar previous winner, Dr Kartar Lalvani, a previous winner and owner of Vitabiotics, Lord Loomba, President of the Loomba Foundation, Dr Rami Ranger, President of the British Sikh Association, Mr A. P. S. Chawla, President of Roko Cancer, Mr Jazz Purewal, President of The Bucks Punjabi Society, Dr Sukhbir Singh Kapoor, the Principal of Khalsa College Harrow, Mr Balwant S. Grewal President of the India Association, Mr Ranbir Singh Suri, and many, many more. Mr Rami Ranger described Ravi as a humble, generous and devoted member of the society, who has conRavi Gidar with members of his beloved family, including his wife, Jaskiran Gidar and his parents

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y honours their Vice-President the “Asian of the Year” Award tributed his time to various organisations to raise substantial funds. He has always been an active member of the Conservative Party and involved in local Council. He also went on to say that Ravi still manages to be a devoted ‘son’ to his dear Parents and a loving ‘husband’ to his amazing ‘wife’ Jaskiran and a fantastic ‘father’ to their children Rishi, Dipinder, Avninder and Rupinder. Mr Ravi Gidar was quoted on the night as saying that he would cherish every moment of the evening and felt extremely honoured and appreciated by the whole Asian Community which contributes to British Society in Business Enterprise, Sport, Politics and much more, and he feels is now an integral part of Britain, providing diversity and culture. Ravi promised that he would carry on serving the society with his best intentions and continued dedication. Ravi Gidar and his brother Sukhi Gidar holding the award

Ravi Gidar accepting the award from the 2011 winner Joginder Sanger

Amrik Singh Walia - General Secretary of the International Punjabi Society, Judge Mota Singh QC, Ravi Gidar, Dr. Gurdip Singh Gujral C.B.E. - President of the International Punjabi Society

Ravi Gidar with this sons – Avninder and Rupinder Gidar

Ravi Gidar & Jasbir Singh Sacher - Founder of the Asian Who’s Who Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

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20-Gary Singh_A4 Temp 07/06/2013 12:16 Page 20

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2G – The lost generation

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Gary Singh

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he term 2G can refer to a number of different things. I suppose most people would associate it with cellular phone networks in the 1990s before 3G. But if you’re a Punjabi born in 1970s and 1980s Britain like me, this refers to something completely different altogether - a Second Generation Immigrant. A second generation immigrant is generally assumed to be the second generation of the first immigrants to enter and inhabit the UK. They are born here. This puts us in a unique situation. Never again will this point in time be replicated. We are the first generation of children to be born outside of India and Pakistan on a widespread basis, possibly since the beginning of time. It sounds dramatic, I know, but as children of the sub-continent, we are not strangers to drama. I have even considered the possibility that we carry an extra gene for it. It should therefore come as no surprise to us that, at times, it is difficult to know exactly where we stand as a generation with a distinctly new identity in British society. It was apparent from an early age growing up in the 1980s that despite blending in with the other children at school; we would return to very different home environments come the end of the day. The food we ate, the language we spoke and the dynamic of overall life at home was very much a testament to the cultural influences that our parents had brought over with them. The extent to which we would disclose this life with others was directly influenced by how many other Asians or indeed Punjabis like ourselves, also attended the same school. Think back to the good old days when we only had 4 channels on terrestrial TV. You would be torn between the genuine excitement of Channel 4 screening ‘Mr India’ on a Sunday afternoon and the anxiety of returning to school to hear your white friends talking about that ‘weird Indian movie’ on over the weekend. You would pretend not to know what they were talking about on one hand and then on the other hand you would be discussing the pros and cons of being invisible with your Indian and Pakistani friends! Ultimately, childhood, school and growing up is very much about “fitting in” regardless of ethnicity, but as second generation immigrants there was always an addi-

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

tional hurdle to face - our physical appearance. Despite behaving, speaking and interacting as white children did, we were undeniably different. It is safe to say, we were not like them, just as we were not like our parents, with whom we shared a physical similarity but not much beyond. I am truly convinced that this is how many of us have lived for most of our lives, confused in terms of identity, neither here nor there. We play one game at home and another away. It’s the only way in which we can truly feel part of both societies – British and Punjabi. The danger of this is never being truly accepted, as we are often misunderstood and understandably treated with suspicion by both. I have perceived something however. Second generation immigrants who I have found to experience minimum conflict-ofidentity adopt a single approach. Those who live as either immigrants or as British citizens do (perhaps even subconsciously) showcase signs of genuine contentment in life. By immigrants, I mean those who do not go to any lengths to conceal their Punjabi background as part of everyday life. Within our community this is supported as normal practise, but they are often accused by those outside of it, of not integrating into modern British society. By British citizens I refer to those living their lives as English people do, without much room for cultural influences. Other than the colour of their skin and a taste for spicy food, there is little to tell them apart. We find these types of people more acceptable in the mainstream but this is often at the expense of rejection by their own community. We truly are a lost generation with perhaps the only positive being that this will not be the predicament experienced by our children. With mixed raced marriages and immigration on the increase, all citizens of Britain will be British and impossible to tell apart. And for those of us “2Gs" who live long enough to see this, I can only hope that this helps us to find our own place within the new society. By Gary Singh, Co-Founder of www.entouraaj .com. Entouraaj is a UK lifestyle magazine for men with an ethnic focus with features on style, fitness, culture, wedding planning and topical issues.


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22-Manjit Flora_A4 Temp 07/06/2013 12:17 Page 22

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Manjit Flora Straight - talking Hockey

■ Sunetra Senior

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Manjit Flora

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inner of a Sikh award and recognition from the Guru Nanak Education Trust in sport, international hockey player Manjit Flora is a much needed role model for Asian youth and adults alike. He is not just a performer of the sport but a mentor and authority, currently working at the Indian Gymkhana Club Osterley, coaching youngsters and strategically raising awareness of the sport in society “I enjoy the camaraderie, playing hard and the team spirit, on and off the pitch”. His club works closely with the community's youth. This includes special sections dedicated entirely to the young and aspiring and organisation of inter-county matches that will really give them the taste of the game- or should I say smell of the grass!- at a competitive level. Manjit is enthusiastic about British-Asian women playing on the field too. Just as the case is for men “keeping fit and healthy and participating within a team is a fabulous thing”. Indian Gymkhana Club Osterley has two female teams and mixed teams but Flora says it is hard to find many women from Asian backgrounds “Hockey among women is quite popular in this country but we need more Asian women”. Here, the successful mid-fielder also adds that Sikhism itself encourages physical exercise. Seva is about interacting with people around you and benefitting one another. He makes the important point that the main issue for all Asians playing in Britain, and their low numbers at a professional level, is a matter of motivation. When his passion began as a child in Punjab, not only was hockey the national sport, but also the common national knowledge “at that point the India national team was very successful. We went and watched, and the fact that all your friends were interested in hockey too just inspired you. The sport was at school, on television, in the newspaper. It was like a religion. There was a pulse throughout. When I came out to the school pitch, we used to meet inspirational international players like Udham Singh. Consequently the sport was more

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

popular amongst the Asian community in the nineteen-seventies when there was a mass influx of immigrants from India and other diaspora communities like Kenya – Manjit's own place of birth. People arriving in England went on passing the ball and passed hockey onto their children. However, since the nineties there has been a decline in Indian hockey, and the Asian families who come to work and reside in Britain today lack awareness and interest. There is also stiff competition with the modern recreations of television and video games world-wide in terms of recruiting the next generation. The factor of an unstable economy then turns focus toward conventional areas of education and yet further away from possible athletic avenues. This is not helped by the ongoing racial bias in the British sports industry. Although times have changed from when “a turban wearing Sikh would not be selected, or encouraged to cut his hair”, Manjit Flora notes that “an Asian player today still has to be twice, thrice better than an English one”. Even if you are an Asian who is talented and involved “you might not see a future and just give up”. There are several Indian sports clubs across the country such as the Barford Tigers, but these are still a relatively far cry from a properly integrated society. Using Slough Hockey club as one of his previous places of work, Manjit gives an example of what ethnic equitability should really look like; not only are the number of BritishAsians the same as British, but the sportsmen are all equally as gifted and qualified. Like his matches, Manjit's strategy for cosmopolitan progression is pragmatic. There is no vote of pity. Quite simply: if there are more Asian people practicing, there will be more Asians fit to play at an expert level, grace the sports world and news and continue to tease out fresh Indian players and their potential talents “if India had done well in the London Olympics, where the Indian team had several Sikh players it would have provided inspiration to the youngsters”.


23-Advert_A4 Temp 07/06/2013 17:13 Page 23

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24-Resham Singh Sandhu_A4 Temp 07/06/2013 12:17 Page 24

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Resham Singh Sandhu MBE DL FRSA High Sheriff of Leicestershire

■ Sunetra Senior

Resham Singh Sandhu

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hen Resham Singh Sandhu was made High Sheriff of Leicestershire in 2011, he at once made cultural history in England. He was the first turban-wearing Sikh to hold the position since its creation in Anglo-Saxon times and is a landmark symbol in British multiculturalism. Resham himself, believes that social egalitarianism has come a long way “I've found that the system in place is best or second to none”. The role of High Sheriff entails sitting with Crown Court and High Court judges in Crown Courts, working with law enforcement agencies and a sovereign representative for all matters relating to the judiciary and civic. This is not much different to the prerequisite of the office a thousand years ago- the main objective being to simply stand for the rule of law- though now, there is a distinct multicultural consciousness. Appointing a Sardar to such authoritative responsibility and honour, certainly seems to confirm that the legal system and laws have evolved with Britain's changing International landscape. Resham elaborated “If one walks confidently with the knowledge that they are as good as others as they are likely to be accepted and accept others but if one thinks 'I am Asian. I am this label' they are already defeated. It doesn't matter about faith or background. It is about what you are all as a person, and the colour of culture just emanates from there. As The High Sheriff, you are there in your uniform and turban. People ask you who you are and where you're from. I'm an ambassador for the Asian community and it shows the position can be given to anyone deserving.” Carrying on undisturbed by potential prejudices, and spreading what he loved, Resham has always been a strong spokesperson of multicultural harmony at heart. He had already received a post-graduate level education in law, been awarded a MBE for his relentless services to the communities and established the Leicestershire faith forum when he was approached about the iconic Leicestershire County Council. He and his wife have also met the Queen on a number of occasions, the most memorable being her visit to Leicester to start her Diamond Jubilee on 8th of March.

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

He and his wife were honoured to greet and receive Her Majesty, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Philip. Later they joined Her Majesty to lunch. Resham affectionately added that Her Majesty could actually recall her Golden Jubilee visit to Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in Leicester in 2002.Another life highlight was celebrating Vaisakhi at the American Embassy and being awarded a certificate of appreciation for his services enhancing the goodwill between Britain and America and India by the High Commissioner of India and USA Embassy in London. Resham's unwitting story of sociopolitical gallantry began with his upbringing in the spiritual location of Amritsar India. His father was religious who said morning and evening prayers, and his mother was a dedicated doting woman who kept their peaceful household running. However, as Resham carefully added, these were not forceful beliefs and more about being a dignified example “It was not the kind of religion we sometimes see where it's 'my religion is better than yours”. Awarded the equivalent of a Victoria Cross in the First World War, his father was also a venerable role-model and his family a charitable presence in the community, helping underprivileged children through all tiers of schooling. Resham continues to support to educate the unfortunate children in India today through the Loomba Trust, in addition to his charity work in England. He also supports Water Aid distributing much needed clean water. When parting ways, it seemed right that Mr Sandhu has been chosen to guide cosmopolitan integration; he ended passionately with the commendable thought that respective families need to teach their children open-mindedness alongside the principles of their faith. Single people, once impressionable youth, are culpable in the religious unrest of our society; not groups. For multi-ethnic progression we must acknowledge our responsibility at home. Ever true to image, Resham has encouraged cultural and individual exploration as a parent. At present he is proudly supporting his son in paving his own way in the world. There is a poetic resonance with what can be seen as Resham's real-life epic of generational philanthropy.


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26-Bobby Singh_A4 Temp 07/06/2013 12:41 Page 26

British

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Punjabi

The Road to Mandalay the Burmese Sikhs

T

Bobby Singh Bansal

Bobby Singh Bansal is a UK based writer and filmmaker. His debut publication ‘The Lion’s Firanghis – Europeans at the Court of Lahore’ received six international awards since its publication in 2010. His documentary The Sikhs of Kabul has been shown at various film festivals around the world. He is currently working on his latest documentary ‘The Road to Mandalay – the Burmese Sikhs’ and his next publication ‘Remnants of the Sikh Empire’.

26

he recent release of Aung San Suu Kyi and opening of the country to investment has brought about hopes of renewal in one of Asia’s most resource rich countries. I flew into Burma to witness this renewal but also to peer into the state of its Sikh community. This tiny minority has lived in Burma since the 1880’s when the British annexed Upper Burma into their empire. As always, first impressions count and arriving through Yangon Airport came as a complete and delightful surprise. Before we knew it, our taxi was heading for the colonial Strand Hotel situated in the centre of the city. Our guide was Chotu Ram, a Burmese Sikh with Mongoloid features, who wore the traditional Burmese attire. He would take us to the famous 2500 year old historical Shwe Dagon Pagoda then to the final resting place of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and other historical attractions in the capital. He would also help us liaise with the local Sikh community with the city’s main Sikh temple or gurdwara built in 1897 by the Sikh soldiers who had served in the British Indian army. There are apparently four Sikh temples in Yangon but the one we visited was the oldest. In Burma, the Sikh community is thriving, unlike in countries like Afghanistan where Sikhs are struggling for survival. Sikhs residing in Burma live in a tolerant Buddhist nation and generally are revered by the locals who mingle amongst them in a cordial manner. The community is small in numbers yet prominent in the fields of transport, trade and commerce. Young Sikh children all maintain the tradition of retaining their long hair unlike in the western world where a majority of Sikhs have become clean shaven. Punjabi classes are held each day for four hours for the children who are all well versed in Punjabi yet speak mainly in Burmese amongst themselves. We were given a most gracious welcome by the members of the Sikh community, whose appearances are somewhat Oriental in nature. Their turbans are tied in a roundly fashion and not pointed at the front as was mine. The striking feature of their attire is that all the Sikh males wear a lungi or dhoti, it’s the national dress of the Burmese. Sikh women all wear the traditional Burmese dress made out of silk or cotton. Seldom did I witness any women wearing a colourful bright

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

Punjabi suit as they do back in India or England. After a few days in Yangon we took the overnight bus to Mandalay the former historical capital of Upper Burma. The journey took 10 hours but to our amazement the bus was very comfortable like being on the National Express in England.

In Mandalay, the British conquered the country in 1885 after the 3rd Anglo-Burmese when they exiled King Thibaw to India who later died there in 1916. The city is laid out on a grid system marked with a huge fortress in the centre which is square in plan and surrounded by a moat on all four sides. Each side of the fort is about 3 kms long and every 400 yards is a watchtower in the shape of a small pagoda. The Sikhs of Mandalay mainly reside in the locality of Theyeze adjacent to the Sikh temple. Several Sikh families live here amongst the local Burmese, many running small businesses and shops. Our host in Mandalay was Mr Sukhdev Singh, a resident of Yangon who was visiting his family but is also the President of the Religious Council of Sikhs of Myanmar. I urged him for ‘roti’ or ‘chappatis’ as we were tired of eating rice. To our delight he already arranged lunch at the home of a local Sikh family. Our last day in Mandalay was completed by a visit to the historical Irrawaddy River which bisects the country from north to south. We managed to arrange a local boat which took us far out to the river and visited historical sites related to WWII, where the Japanese Army had advanced into Burma from Malaya. In 1942 Sikh soldiers from the 7th Indian Army Division fought Japanese soldiers in the nearby jungles from advancing into the Indian territory of Kohima. This was indeed a poignant place filming along the Irrawaddy River where many soldiers had lost their lives.


27-Dr Jeevan Deol_A4 Temp 07/06/2013 15:21 Page 27

British

4

Punjabi

■ Rani Singh

N

Looking at history

o magazine on British Punjabis would be complete without a visit to some important part of Punjabi history, so for this issue we have chosen to have a conversation about Sikh scriptures with the historian Jeevan Deol, who has worked on Punjabi history and Sikh texts. RS: In 2002 the oldest Sikh scriptures outside India were discovered in London. How old are they and where were they found? JD: The oldest copy of the Sikh scriptures outside India, probably copied in the 1660s or 1670s, is in the British Library in London. Sikh tradition says that the Adi Granth was dictated by the fifth Guru Arjan to his uncle Bhai Gurdas in 1604. That manuscript is with the Guru's descendants in the town of Kartarpur near Jalandhar. RS: How did these scriptures arrive in the British Library, who wrote them and what condition were they in? How are they now being preserved? JD: The British Library manuscript was bought from a Christian missionary who had served in Amritsar, the rather appropriately named Rev. Fisher, in 1884. It was copied by an anonymous scribe. Sometime in the nineteenth century, the final portion was recopied and replaced due to damage. The manuscript is kept in state-of-the-art conditions at the British Library, but age is taking its toll and it is now too fragile to be consulted by readers. It will hopefully be fully digitised in the very near future. RS: Where are all the Sikh manuscripts in the world being kept? How can they all be documented? JD: There are Sikh manuscripts in private, shrine, gurdwara and librarcollections all over the world – principally in India but also in Pakistan, the UK, the US, Russia and elsewhere. The two most important issues are access to texts and preserving them. About 15 years ago, I started pushing for manuscripts to be digitised. There have now been some efforts in that direction in India, which is encouraging. But there is still a tendency to restrict and control access to texts, or to charge to view them. No one's done the right thing yet: put everything on the web for everyone to see and use. RS: How can the cur-

rent generation understand history on its own terms? JD: By becoming culturally literate. By reading, thinking and valuing ideas. By questioning received ideas. By cultivating a mindset that doesn’t pay undue reverence to ‘community’ figures and ‘authorities’. And by learnDr Jeevan Deol ing that ideas, people and institutions aren’t somehow ‘better’ or more important just because they’re in India. Dr Jeevan Deol is a historian who has worked on Punjab and Sikh history.

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

27


28-Dylan Singh_A4 Temp 07/06/2013 12:41 Page 28

British

Jo Bole So Dylan Lall

■ Rupanjana Dutta

F

ootball is the world's most popular sport, played in over 200 countries by professionals and thousands of fans. It has enormous popularity in Britain too, with clubs that are almost worshipped as temples and players as demigods. But despite of a huge Asian fan following, football has only recently started gaining momentum as a profession within the community. 17 years old Dylan Singh Lall is a British Sikh born defender for Brighton & Hove Albion club and can play both at centre back and left back. Born in England, Dylan used to play for Sunday league teams Crawley Down and Saint Hill Blues before he joined Brighton. He has made over 30 youthteam appearances for Brighton since the age of 15, representing them in several youth tournaments, including the FA Youth Cup last season. Prosperous at quite a young age, Dylan is obviously aware that many Asian parents prefer their children to take up regular professions over sports. But he explained to the British Punjabi (BP) team that he has been lucky with very supportive parents, who have always encouraged him to do the best in whatever he likes. “I was brought up in Copthorne in a family where my parents encouraged, supported and motivated me to pursue whatever path I wanted to take in life without any pressure, whether it be academia or in sport. The fact that my parents were both very much interested in a plethora of sports, engaged my brother and I to partake in many different physical activities, such as Tennis, Cricket, Golf, Squash, Snooker, Rugby and Football. “As a Sikh I was brought up to respect everyone equally, always help those around me and simply to just do my best. These very aspects have built a personal foundation in which I can also transfer into my sporting life too. “Like everything that has happened in my life to date, my parents have supported me 100% and I am more than grateful for all that they’ve done because without them giv-

ing up their time, energy and effort to take me to every training session and every match, I wouldn’t have been given this opportunity.’’ Speaking of general career preferences amongst his Brit Indian peers an honest Dylan added, “I believe that amongst my generation of British Indians, certain cultural preferences, such as undertaking sophisticated academic paths like their Mother or Father, has become less of a pressure. I honestly feel that everyone thinks more independently in this day and age whereby there is wider choice of career paths that grasp the different respective interests of British Indians in this generation.” When asked why he thinks British Indians are so rare to spot in football, Dylan said, “I think there are mainly two reasons. One is that there is sometimes a lack of opportunity which doesn’t give many British Indians the chance and another is a lack of self belief as football is not seen as a sport that is encouraged amongst Indians in general. ” Though Dylan is a diehard football lover and an ambitious player, if not a footballer, he is sure he would have chosen to work in the finance sector in the City. “For me playing football is not about quantities of money. I have never been motivated by money or fame, I just want to do something I truly love for a career. I’m fully focused on trying to obtain a professional contract at Brighton so for me my personal dream would be to be playing at the Amex under Poyet at this moment in time. Given a chance, I would love to meet Rio Ferdinand as he is a great player and with so much experience which I would love to learn from.” Along with his parents, his agent Rishi Doshi of RKD Sports Management told us the priority for Dylan is to secure a professional contract and have a career as a professional player. When asked if there are any golden words of advice for the future footballers, with a dash of positivism and enthusiasm Dylan added, “You must believe in yourself and your own ability as well as surround yourself with people who support your aspirations. I believe this can only benefit you personally not only in sport but also in life in general.”

4

Punjabi

Dylan Singh

Follow Dylan on twitter @DylanLall_ and RKD Sports at @RKDsports

photo courtesy: Brighton FC

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

28


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30-Harpal Singh_A4 Temp 07/06/2013 12:43 Page 30

British

4

Punjabi

Harpal Singh Kumar

■ Rani Singh

A New Kind of Charity Head

H

Harpal Singh Kumar

30

arpal Singh Kumar became Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK in April 2007 after a stint from 2004 as Chief Operating Officer, handling strategic direction and day-to-day operational management. Before that, from 2002-4, Harpal was Chief Executive of Cancer Research Technology Limited (CRT, a subsidiary of Cancer Research UK) handling the charity's technology transfer and drug discovery . Harpal Kumar has a Masters degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge and an MBA from Harvard Business School where he was a Baker Scholar. Initially he was a research scientist with the UK Atomic Energy Authority. He then spent four years with McKinsey and Co. in London, where he focused on advising pharmaceutical clients on strategic issues. The Papworth Trust then made him their CEO. The Trust focuses on ground breaking housing and rehabilitation services for people with disabilities. Harpal left Papworth in 1997 to found the Nexan Group, a venture capital-backed medical device company. He became the CEO there. The firm created and marketed unique cardio-respiratory monitoring technologies to bring down the early mortality of patients with congestive heart failure. His Cancer Research website credentials read as follows; “Harpal is Chairman of the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow and is a Trustee of the Institute for Cancer Research in London and the UKCMRI Limited. He also serves on the Boards of the National Cancer Research Institute, the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, and the NHS Innovation Council. He co-chairs with Professor Mike Richards the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative and is Deputy Chair of the Advisory Board for the Cancer Reform Strategy in England. He also serves on the Steering Groups for the National Cancer Intelligence Network and the Manchester Cancer Research Centre.” Cancer Research UK is working towards a time when cancer –in whatever form it appears – is cured. The charity declares; “This is our long-term vision. It won’t be achieved today or in our lifetime. But one day, it will happen. And if we stand united, cancer doesn’t stand a chance. With relentless determination we can push forward more quickly towards a future where cancer doesn’t have to be feared.

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

Every day we are achieving this ambition step by step together. From our volunteers and supporters on the ground to our scientists, doctors and nurses in the hospitals and labs, we’re all here to save more lives by preventing, controlling and curing all cancers. Sooner or later we will find cures for all cancers. Let’s make it sooner. We fund over half of the UK’s cancer research, including the life-saving work of over 4000 scientists, doctors and nurses fighting cancer on all fronts. Every day, our researchers make cutting-edge discoveries in our labs, and our doctors and nurses pioneer new treatments with patients in hospitals. This is why our research is so vital and why we need the public’s support to keep forging ahead to create more tomorrows for more people with cancer.” Cancer Research UK also disseminates information to millions of people every year to help them understand about cancers. Also, together with its supporters, it campaigns on key cancer subjects like access to cancer drugs, screening and a reduction in the use of tobacco. It also runs awareness initiatives to help detect cancer early and help people reduce the risk of getting the disease. The campaigns and lobbying that the charity does ensures that politicians too are aware of the importance of addressing issues to do with cancer. Cancer Research UK is recognised as the leading cancer research charity in the world. It pioneers research into the prevention, treatment and cures for all cancers. But the impact of the charity’s work is not widely appreciated. Cancer Research UK has been developing newer, gentler treatments and helping double survival rates in just 40 years. It says, “But there's so much more to do – 1 in 3 of us will be affected by this devastating disease and due to an aging population this statistic will get worse. We are the world's leading charity dedicated to saving lives through research. Funded entirely by the public, we're working to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. Our scientists, doctors, nurses, volunteers and supporters are united in putting an end to this devastating disease. In fact, we're the only ones fighting over 200 cancers, including the one that matters most to you.”


31-Advert_A4 Temp 07/06/2013 17:15 Page 31

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31


32-Trishna Singh_A4 Temp 07/06/2013 12:47 Page 32

British

4

Punjabi

Trishna Singh: Spirituality, Support and Sikh Sanjog

■ Sunetra Senior

T

Trishna Singh

32

rishna is a strong intuitive woman whose smart forward-thinking and moral resolve has benefitted society at the same time as her own life direction. Sikh Sanjog, a charity for disenfranchised Sikh women, is the fruit of her challenges, and an inspiring beacon in the local community. “I am where I want to be” she told us on the phone while walking through Edinburgh, navigating physical places as she talked through emotional ones. “I was officially made director in 2010, gained my degree in Community Learning and Development in 2007 at the age of 54, the members and staff on board have a variety of different experiences and backgroundsScottish, Polish and Sikh and we're opening spaces for young Sikh women to come in or train for youth work and community development”. Like her handling of the conversation through busy streets, she has overcome personal and professional obstacles with patience and maturity, not letting her focus waver or feeling easily defeated: “We were first generation women taught about cooking, cleaning sewing- all the housewife skills. Brought up in the UK and in my case Scotland, it was law to attend primary school, but by secondary school we were removed and prepared for marriage. We weren't tied down, but were never given educative options or career opportunities- for us it was invisible oppression”. Though largely restricted to the home, Trishna’s father and grand-father were educated men, and she had access to their extensive host of literature. These included Sikh doctrines. With what can only be attributed to an innate intellectual curiosity, Trishna not only began to see that her situation was questionable, but could also identify the reason as distorted social ideology “I learned more about my religion and women and realised our treatment was not about religion, it was cultural”. Guru Nanak, the pioneer of Sikhism actually promoted gender equality 'The woman is our friend and from woman is the family born'. Trishna was married young and had two sons shortly afterwards, but still carried with her the knowledge that a woman could be more than just a wife or a mother “Always in the back of my mind I had the desire, an ambi-

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2013

tion. Something within me knowing it wasn't right, not aligned with the Sikh ethos”. It was not for another few years that she would feel the huge existential tremor that would catalyse the emotional birth of definitive action; the tragic death of a child, together with the arrival of two daughters and intensive community counseling, finally pushed her to create a selfhelp sanctuary for other struggling Sikh women: “I got support from local health visitors, but they didn't understand my culture and couldn't help properly. They didn't know how because we didn't communicate. Then after 1984, I had two daughters. Looking at them I thought we have to stop doing this just because it's routine. Life is short. I'd wanted to do so much more, and didn't because of these unseen barriers.” With the charity approaching its 25th anniversary, she has certainly broken through those. What started as a small meeting between a few women has now grown into a robust organization, offering a range of proactive solutions helping women to feel comfortable in themselves and accomplish life goals: teaching employability skills, progressive therapy, and youth programs. The innovative extent of these activities includes fashion shows for confidence building, and consultations that address sexual orientation. A religious trail-blazer in modern times, Trishna champions her faith free of dogmatic corruption. Now with two sons, 2 daughters, a daughter and son-in-law and three grandchildren, Trishna also shows that the political marriage between East and West can be triumphant “Women could be successful in the rest of the community, they went on to higher education becoming doctors and lawyers- our families wanted to remove us from western influence because they thought it was better, but there was no reason. It's important to make change, but I don't leave tradition behind either- there is always my spiritual connection with scriptures.” In that silvery but assured voice, so reflective of her feminine but independent character, Trishna lastly added “You need to find and stand up for yourself and know that God has sent you here for a purpose.”


33-Credit Box+AAA_A4 Temp 07/06/2013 17:16 Page 33

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AirIndia_A4 Temp 07/06/2013 12:24 Page 1


RAF_A4 Temp 31/01/2013 14:08 Page 1

My family have always encouraged me to put education first. I wanted to do interesting things.

By joining the RAF as a medical officer, I am able to do both.

My job means that Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m responsible for everyoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s health on the base.

I also have to do a lot of study and research which is very important for my career.

Outside of work, I have a few hobbies. Beating my little brother at cricket is one of them. My wife agrees with me on this, living on an RAF base is like staying with extended family.

Royal Air Force, Senior Medical Officer

People around us are warm, friendly and constantly looking after us.

I love what I do.

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Profile for Asian Business Publications Ltd

BritishPunjabis 13th June 2013  

4th edition of the British Punjabi magazine consisting of profiles and articles, mainly on the culture, roots and pride in the British Punja...

BritishPunjabis 13th June 2013  

4th edition of the British Punjabi magazine consisting of profiles and articles, mainly on the culture, roots and pride in the British Punja...

Profile for abpl